Tips on How To Run a Festival – From Our Mentors at Nantucket

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A few weeks ago, the Fusion Team held a workshop with our mentors at festival the Nantucket Film Festival where we talked about everything from getting sponsors to creating the perfect marketing pitch. Bill Curran, the Festival Producer, Basil Tsiokos, the Film Program Director, Nicki Doyamis and Jess Byers, the Development Manager and the festival Coordinator, respectively, made up the intimate and knowledgeable panel.

As is stated in their mission statement, the Nantucket Film Festival focuses on the awareness and appreciation of the art of screenwriting. Each year they honor a different screenwriter who has been exemplary in the field of screenwriting. This year, the festival is honoring Aaron Sorkin, who is best known as the screenwriter behind The Social Network and the creator of the television shows The West Wing and The Newsroom.

Along with honoring a noted screenwriter each year, the Festival also awards new voices in screenwriting who have made an impact, special achievements in documentary storytelling, and the Adrienne Shelly Excellence in Filmmaking Award, which is presented to a female involved in the creation of film who has stood out among her peers. As the awards span all aspects of screenwriting, it is clear that the Nantucket Film Festival caters to a vast audience.

The Festival also hosts an All-Star Comedy Roundtable each year, bringing together the top writers, directors, and performers in comedy who talk about their experiences in the field. Last year’s comedians included Ben Stiller, Mike Myers, Seth Meyers, and Michael Ian Black. While the Nantucket Film Festival is smaller in size than other film festivals, it was inspiring to hear about how this reputable festival still brought large audiences and successful writers together to celebrate screenwriting in film.

This year, the Nantucket Film Festival will be celebrating its 19th festival. These many years of experience gives Nantucket some great insights to share with Fusion about running a successful festival. One of their main tips is to always be professional and positive, especially when working with other companies, including those who might be sponsors for the festival. It was inspiring to hear how important a confident attitude can take you, whether you are working for a major film festival like Nantucket Film Festival or a student run festival like Fusion.

In terms of advertising for and marketing the festival, the Nantucket panel advised to take a cue from social media and connect events that were happening in popular culture with events that Fusion was involved in. Everyone loves top-ten lists, so use Twitter or Facebook to pull people into the “Top Ten Women in Film” that they have to check out, or “The Five Must See Films of February” that have Fusion Alumni involved in them. The bottom line: Keep people interested and involved in the Festival,
and always present a positive image to the public. Successful film festivals are all about teamwork and building a team that is knowledgeable, determined, and passionate about making each year the best it can be.

To have the chance to talk to such successful and knowledgeable insiders as the Nantucket Film Festival team was an incredible opportunity. Their insights into what makes a film festival successful were a reminder of how any festival, including Fusion, can always grow and improve to make each year the best festival yet. It was inspiring to hear from such notable people in the film festival industry, and about how as students putting on a film festival, Fusion has a lot in common with the Nantucket Festival.

By Madeline Smith